Spaghetti with Toasted Breadcrumbs

20140124-075433.jpgI’m pretty sure it’s because of the cold weather, but this week my body has been screaming for carbs. I usually just tell myself to calm down and go have a banana or something, but my inner carb hound would not be denied. Do you have those days? Yeah, me, too. So I decided to just throw that carb hound a treat and get it over with. This dish is a classic Italian recipe born of poverty, great olive oil and even better bread. Served with a green salad, you’ll still be able to get your vegetables in while enjoying a meal so delicious and simple, you won’t believe it only has two main ingredients.

This is my version of the recipe and from checking around the internet, there are about 100 different combinations for this dish. I’ve seen variations that include chopped olives, sardines, and tomatoes, so you can pretty much make this what you want.

A note about breadcrumbs: I made my own using some whole grain bread I had on-hand. I toasted it in the toaster, let it cool and then processed it in my little food chopper. I like how the food chopper leaves some larger crumbs in there (yum!). You could use ciabatta or any kind of bread you have on hand, but if you can, try to make the breadcrumbs yourself. If you’re in a pinch, however, prepared breadcrumbs will do just fine.

Spaghetti with Toasted Breadcrumbs (serves 4 light eaters or 2 hungry runners)

  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
  1. In a large stock pot, boil heavily salted water to cook the pasta.
  2. When the water is just barely starting to boil, heat the olive oil over medium low in a 10″ saute pan or skillet.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes to the oil and gently heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium, add the onion, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Do not let onion burn–if needed, turn the heat down a bit.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the angel hair pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, add the breadcrumbs to the olive oil mixture and increase the heat to medium high.
  8. Toast the breadcrumbs (they will absorb all the oil in the pan) and stir frequently to keep them from scorching. This is a very important step–you want your breadcrumbs crunchy! Cook for about 3 minutes.
  9. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of the pasta liquid. Add the pasta and half the toasted breadcrumbs to the stock pot and toss well. Add pasta water as needed to keep the pasta from being too dry (I used about 1/2 cup).
  10. Plate your pasta and top with the remaining breadcrumbs and cheese.
  11. Feel your inner carb hound’s tail a wagging!
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